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There is little doubt why the South Pacific Islands are the benchmark by which paradise is measured. Robinson Crusoe Island, Easter Island and French Polynesia – among others – are the stuff of many a childhood dream. Yet, the world’s most captivating islands are far more than just sea and sun. With UNESCO World Heritage Sites, endemic wildlife and descendants of the Bounty mutineers, this voyage is perfect for both birders and buccaneers.
• Discover Austral Islands • Visit Pitcairn Island • Explore Easter Island
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Papeete is the center of the tropical paradise of French Polynesia, where islands fringed with gorgeous beaches and turquoise ocean await to soothe the soul. This spirited city is the capital of French Polynesia, and serves as a superb base for onward exploration of Tahiti – an island of breathtaking landscapes and oceanic vistas. A wonderful lagoon of crisp, clear water begs to be snorkelled, stunning black beaches and blowholes pay tribute to the island's volcanic heritage, and lush green mountains beckon you inland on adventures, as you explore extraordinary Tahiti. Visit to relax and settle into the intoxicating rhythm of life in this Polynesian paradise.
Motu Vaiamanu is one of the 28 islets found on the reef encircling Raivavae’s lagoon. Part of the Austral Islands in French Polynesia, Raivavae has been described as a small and laid-back version of Bora Bora, with fewer tourists. This is the typical South Sea paradise one expects: crystal-clear waters that range in color from aquamarine to dark blue, white sandy beaches, pandanus and coconut palm trees, with reef fish for snorkelers to enjoy and tropicbirds, reef herons, noddies and the occasional shorebird for birders.
The island of Rapa (or Rapa Iti) is the southernmost inhabited island of French Polynesia. It has a protected central bay and is surrounded by a ring of mountains; the island appears to be a sinking volcano with the bay as the caldera. There are with two villages located on the island: the main village of Ahurei and the smaller village of ‘Area. Within Ahurei there are 28 ridgetop fortresses, the best example of which is the fortress of Morunga Uta. Excavated in 1956 by William Mulloy from Wyoming and local helpers, this fort -as all the others too- would indicate local warfare by the 16th to 17th century. The two villages today have a combined population of 515 inhabitants and are famous throughout French Polynesia for their religious singing. Experience a traditional presentation in Ahurei.
Some 75 kilometres southeast of Rapa are the four uninhabited rocks that make up the Bass Group, known as Marotiri to the Polynesians. According to stories from Rapa, these rocks were used on occasions to exile unwanted Rapans. The rocks are an important breeding site for seabirds and fish are abundant. Pending permission by the French Polynesian authorities we will take our Zodiacs to cruise around the four rocks and look for the seabird colonies on French Polynesia’s most remote possession.
With a total of around 50 residents on the island, Adamstown is the capital of the Pitcairn Islands and the only populated settlement, as all of the other Pitcairn Islands are uninhabited (although Henderson was populated by Polynesians in the 11th through 15th centuries). Halfway between Peru and New Zealand, Pitcairn was the perfect hiding spot for the famed HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives. Not only had the island been misplaced on early maps of the region, but it can also be very difficult to come ashore as large breakers tend to build up just in front of the small harbour of Bounty Bay. On shore visit the local museum that houses the HMS Bounty Bible, the historic Adamstown Church, view Fletcher Christian’s cave, or keep an eye out for the Pitcairn Reed Warbler.
On this remote and uninhabited piece of land – a raised coral island virtually untouched by man – you will get a true sense of what it feels to be isolated from the rest of the world. The landscape has been left unchanged for more than 500 years, permitting an understanding of how natural selection has resulted in Henderson’s primary attraction: four endemic land birds. To protect the rare, natural state of Henderson Island, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site in 1988.
Discovered in 1606 by Pedro Fernandez de Quiros on his way to the Solomon Islands, Ducie is a small isolated atoll and is the easternmost of the Pitcairn Islands. The island’s most prominent bit of history is the 1881 wreckage of the ship Acadia, which ran aground on the island when the lookout mistook the island for a cloud due to its white beaches. Ducie is a mere speck in the surrounding expanse of ocean, uninhabited except for the estimated 500,000 nesting seabirds that reside among the two plant species (Beach Heliotrope and at least one specimen of Pemphis) that grow over seventy percent of the island. Bird species that visitors may be able to see include Murphy's Petrels, White Terns, Great Frigatebirds and Masked Boobies. Under good conditions the wreck of the Acadia or the atoll’s lagoon waters offer interesting snorkel opportunities.
Discovered (by the Western world) on Easter Sunday, 1722, Easter Island is one of the most isolated places on the face of the Earth, some 2,300 miles from the Chilean mainland. Although more Polynesian than South American in character, the 64-square mile island was annexed by Chile in 1888, and is now famous as the world’s largest ‘open air museum’ on account of the Moai, or human-like stone statues, that can be found on the island. The island’s national park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Moai remain very much a mystery, which archaeologists are still trying to unlock. The ancient language of the Rapa Nui is one of the keys to understanding this culture. One of the other mysteries are the texts written on the so called ‘rongo rongo tablets’. The island owes its origin to three volcanoes: Poike and Rano Kau had erupted first and were later connected with Maunga Terevaka‘s eruption. It is not known when or how the island was first populated, but the most credible theory suggests that the Rapa Nui people came from other Pacific islands. Scientists debate as to when this occurred, the earliest claim sees this happening in the 4th century AD. In addition to the cultural and archaeological interest, there are two beautiful beaches, transparent waters, and a few coral reefs as might be expected of a Pacific Island.
Alejandro Selkirk Island is part of the Juan Fernandez archipelago. The island itself was renamed in 1966 after the marooned sailor who served as the template for Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe, although Alejandro Selkirk was a castaway on the island Mas a Tierra, today named Robinson Crusoe Island. Alejandro Selkirk is located 165 kilometres west of the other islands in the archipelago. Throughout much of its history, the island has been uninhabited, although there is a former penal settlement on the middle of the east coast, which operated from 1909 to 1930. During the summer months, Selkirk welcomes a small community of lobster fishermen and their families who come from Robinson Crusoe. As part of the Chilean National Park, it also holds the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve title. The island is home to a number of rare and endangered plant and animal species. One of those iconic species—the Masafuera Rayadito—is found only on Selkirk; its global population numbers in the low hundreds and it is of particular interest to researchers and those looking to prevent species extinctions.
Robinson Crusoe Island is located 600 kilometres off the coast of Chile. The island is a rugged volcanic speck where 70 percent of its plant species are endemic, and is the largest of the Juan Fernandez Islands, a small archipelago that since 1935 is a Chilean National Park which in 1977 was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. This island has witnessed and played an important role in Chilean and world history. In 1704 the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned on the island and stayed for more than 4 years, eventually inspiring Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe –hence the name of the island. 1750 the village of San Juan Bautista was founded at Cumberland Bay and by 1779 there were already 7 small fortresses bristling with guns. The island’s isolation offered Spain a splendid place for setting up a penal colony, to which high-ranking Chilean patriots were deported in the early 19th century. In 1915, during the First World War, three British ships and a German one, the Dresden, engaged in a sea battle which ended with the scuttling of the German cruiser. Today there are currently around one thousand people living in the archipelago, most of them in the village of San Juan Bautista engaged in fishing for the “spiny lobster”, a delicacy exported to the mainland.
Valparaíso's dramatic topography—45 cerros, or hills, overlooking the ocean—requires the use of winding pathways and wooden ascensores (funiculars) to get up many of the grades. The slopes are covered by candy-color houses—there are almost no apartments in the city—most of which have exteriors of corrugated metal peeled from shipping containers decades ago. Valparaíso has served as Santiago's port for centuries. Before the Panama Canal opened, Valparaíso was the busiest port in South America. Harsh realities—changing trade routes, industrial decline—have diminished its importance, but it remains Chile's principal port. Most shops, banks, restaurants, bars, and other businesses cluster along the handful of streets called El Plan (the flat area) that are closest to the shoreline. Porteños (which means "the residents of the port") live in the surrounding hills in an undulating array of colorful abodes. At the top of any of the dozens of stairways, the paseos (promenades) have spectacular views; many are named after prominent Yugoslavian, Basque, and German immigrants. Neighborhoods are named for the hills they cover. With the jumble of power lines overhead and the hundreds of buses that slow down—but never completely stop—to pick up agile riders, it's hard to forget you're in a city. Still, walking is the best way to experience Valparaíso.
Itineraries are subject to change.
Silver Explorer's all-inclusive dining, service and shore excursions means that this is luxury expedition cruising at its very best. Award-winning itineraries make this ship the perfect combination of adventure and comfort.
The purpose-built Silver Explorer expedition ship (formerly the Prince Albert II) has been designed specifically for navigating waters in some of the world’s most remote destinations, including both of earth’s polar regions. A strengthened hull with a Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enables Silver Explorer to safely push through ice floes with ease.
A fleet of Zodiac boats allows guests to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding to each unforgettable Silver Explorer cruise adventure.
Silver Eplorer features 2 x restaurants, a fitness suite, 2 x loungers, a beauty spa and a library.
- Butler service
- Refrigerator and bar setup stocked with your preferences
- Luxury bath amenities
- Pillow menu
- Personalised stationery
- Direct dial telephone(s)
- 220-volt outlets
- Unlimited Standard Wifi
- Flat-screen television(s) with Interactive Media Library
- French balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors
- Twin beds or queen-sized bed
- Marbled bathroom with shower
- Fitted wardrobe with personal safe
- Sitting area with writing desk
- Hair dryer
- Plush bathrobe
- Champagne on arrival